Well Water Testing
What Every Homeowner Should Know About Well Water Testing
Water is essential to life and healthy living. Yet, when water comes from underground - right into your household - there are no guarantees as to its purity or quality. Every day you expect to have quality water to use for everything from laundry and house cleaning to drinking and bathing. Private wells are reliable sources of good tasting water; however, regular testing is needed to ensure your water is safe to drink. Fortunately, testing is simple, fast and affordable.
The Coastal Health District Laboratory is a full service, state-certified laboratory specializing in water testing for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. In conjunction with promoting safe water, we offer well and septic system inspections. We also offer testing for Volatile Organic Chemical (VOC) contamination in water and soil. Our qualified staff has earned the respect of both state agencies and customers alike by providing accurate testing along with prompt and professional service.
Common Contaminants Found in Residential Well Water
Well water can become contaminated without any change in the water's taste, smell or appearance. The following are common contaminants found in residential Georgia wells:
• COLIFORM BACTERIA: A natural part of the microbiology of soils, insects, and warm-blooded animals, coliform bacteria is the primary indicator for presence of disease causing organisms in water.
• NITRATES: Elevated levels can be an indication of contamination by farm chemicals, lawn fertilizers, or septic saturation. Nitrates can pose a serious health risk to young infants.
• ARSENIC: This toxic element is found naturally in soil and bedrock. Ingestion can lead to serious health problems.
• LEAD: Houses built before 1985 may contain lead pipes or lead-based solder. Lead can cause serious health problems in young children.
• FLUORIDE: Found naturally in water. While low levels of fluoride are desirable, excessive amounts may stain teeth.
• SULFATES: High levels of sulfates can cause odors, leave spots, taste bitter and have a temporary laxative effect.
• CHLORIDES: Small amounts of salt are natural. Higher levels are unnatural and may indicate a faulty water softener, road salt, and septic waste or fertilizer contamination.
Common Questions About Well Water
Q. Is well water safe to drink?
Yes. Water from a private well can be just as safe, if not safer, than municipal water. However, regular testing is needed to ensure a continued supply of clean, safe water.
Q. How can I tell if my well water is safe?
While some contaminants will change the appearance or taste of the water, others cannot be seen, smelled, or even tasted. The only sure way to know is to have your water tested.
Q. Can I test my water at home?
While do-it-yourself test kits are available on the market, these tests are never as accurate as those performed by a state-certified lab. Safe water shouldn't be a guessing game. To know what's in your water for sure, utilize the services of a certified lab.
Q. How often should I have my well tested?
Many state and federal authorities recommend having your water tested annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Other contaminants should be tested for at least once every five to ten years.
Q. How long will it take to get the results?
Some laboratories may take as long as two weeks to return your results. For typical tests, Clean Water Testing will usually return your results within two business days.
Q. How much will a water test cost me?
Costs can vary depending on the number and type of tests you request. Typical tests range from $15 - $90.
I want to have my water tested. Now what?
Contact the Coastal Health District Laboratory at 1395 Eisenhower Drive Savannah, Ga. 31406, or by phone at (912) 356-2148, or via fax at (912) 356-2499.
• Collect your water samples. Click here to download instructions for proper sample collection.
• The lab will send back a comprehensive report on your results, or will contact you by phone if a serious problem exists with your water. Typical tests are completed in approximately 5-7 business days, depending on tests ordered. After reviewing your results, you may determine a water treatment solution is necessary. The answer may be as simple as a water conditioner or a drinking water system. You may want to talk with a qualified water treatment specialist to properly evaluate your needs and options.
You may also find more helpful information in this guide to understanding Commonly Found Substances in Drinking Water, and Interpreting Drinking Water Test Results.